It’s true that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. It’s also true that first impressions are often lasting ones. For that reason, it’s important that you do all you can do to influence a positive reaction when people meet you. Here are tips to making a great first impression:
1) Be presentable. The initial impressions people have of you are made before you say a word. Your clothing, grooming and posture say a great deal about who you are. When you know you’re going to be in a situation where you’ll be meeting new people, dress the part. Make sure your hair is combed, dress neatly and stand up straight.
2) Make eye contact, but don’t overdo it. Connections are made through eye contact, but too much eye contact can be viewed as aggressive or make the other person uncomfortable. During the initial introductions is a good time to make eye contact, but you don’t need to maintain it during the entire conversation. Alternate between establishing and breaking eye contact throughout the conversation.
3) Smile and mean it. Don’t give a fake or forced smile. Be genuine with the attitude that you’re happy to be meeting a new person.
4) Give a firm handshake. During the handshake, make eye contact, smile and give your greeting, such as “Nice to meet you.” The handshake should be with one hand, holding the other person’s hand firmly, but not crushingly.
5) Say the other person’s name. Saying a person’s name shows you’re engaged and paying attention. It also makes the other person feel special and can be a helpful trick to remembering names if you tend to forget them.
6) Listen. There are few social graces that show as much respect and make others feel good than listening. People like to feel heard. Show that you’re listening by making eye contact, smiling or nodding to show you’re engaged, and responding to what the other person is saying, not with your own agenda.
Whether you’re going in for a job interview or are networking with potential clients, first impressions can make or break your success in the initial meeting. Improve the odds of influencing a positive response by looking the part, having a great attitude and fully engaging with the other person.